The Ball and The Cross
The Last Parley
Turnbull walked away, wildly trying to explain to himself the presence of two
personal acquaintances so different as Vane and the girl. As he skirted a low
hedge of laurel, an enormously tall young man leapt over it, stood in front of him,
and almost fell on his neck as if seeking to embrace him.
"Don't you know me?" almost sobbed the young man, who was in the highest
spirits. "Ain't I written on your heart, old boy? I say, what did you do with my
"Take your arms off my neck," said Turnbull, irritably. "Are you mad?"
The young man sat down on the gravel path and went into ecstasies of laughter.
"No, that's just the fun of it--I'm not mad," he replied. "They've shut me up in this
place, and I'm not mad." And he went off again into mirth as innocent as
Turnbull, whose powers of surprise were exhausted, rolled his round grey eyes
and said, "Mr. Wilkinson, I think," because he could not think of anything else to
The tall man sitting on the gravel bowed with urbanity, and said: "Quite at your
service. Not to be confused with the Wilkinsons of Cumberland; and as I say, old
boy, what have you done with my yacht? You see, they've locked me up here--in
this garden--and a yacht would be a sort of occupation for an unmarried man."
"I am really horribly sorry," began Turnbull, in the last stage of bated
bewilderment and exasperation, "but really----"
"Oh, I can see you can't have it on you at the moment," said Mr. Wilkinson with
much intellectual magnanimity.
"Well, the fact is----" began Turnbull again, and then the phrase was frozen on
his mouth, for round the corner came the goatlike face and gleaming eye-glasses
of Dr. Quayle.
"Ah, my dear Mr. Wilkinson," said the doctor, as if delighted at a coincidence;
"and Mr. Turnbull, too. Why, I want to speak to Mr. Turnbull."
Mr. Turnbull made some movement rather of surrender than assent, and the
doctor caught it up exquisitely, showing even more of his two front teeth. "I am
sure Mr. Wilkinson will excuse us a moment." And with flying frock-coat he led
Turnbull rapidly round the corner of a path.